Esylum Volume 14 Number 21

esylum at esylum at
Sun May 22 14:50:48 PDT 2011

The E-Sylum
  An electronic publication of
  The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

Volume , Number 21, May 22, 2011





















Click here to read this issue on the web





We have no new subscribers this week (as of Thursday, anyway).

We have  1,425 email subscribers, plus 140 followers on Facebook, including

Brandon Katrena and Norbert Wegmann.


This week's issue is brought to you with the able help of NBS webmaster Bruce Perdue, who filled in over the weekend while I traveled with my family.  In a cold-turkey experiment, I left my laptop at home as a surprise to my wife, who figured they would someday need the Jaws of Life to pry it from my cold, dead hands.   That or a six-foot power cord cable for the coffin.  


So for the first time since September 4, 1998 I had to spend Sunday night watching my inbox like every other E-Sylum subscriber.   Looks like it worked!  Thanks, Bruce!   I'll be back on the job next week, so keep your emails coming.


Topics this week include a very special numismatist's birthday celebration, the David Heuer collection, euro coin sizes and another attempt to make a true electronic currency.

Have a great week, everyone.


Wayne Homren

 Numismatic Bibliomania Society






David Sklow forwarded the following reminder of his upcoming numismatic literature sale.  He writes:

A reminder so you will not miss MBS # 13,  June 11th Sale! Our largest sale to date - over 1,000 lots!







>From the research & source library of Q. David Bowers are offered over 300 lots on numismatics.

Including an American Bond Detector; an Original set of Numisma by Frossard; set number 5 of the deluxe 
bound Armand Champa Library catalogs; letters between QDB and John J. Ford, Jr.; the paste-up plates for 
the Taylor sale of Colonials 1987; super deluxe presentation copy number 2 of the Eliasberg & 
Brand collections; a set of The Essay Proof Journals; special, priced, large paper, bound, Cogan 
Sale of the J.K. Wiggins Collection; six works by Snelling bound in one volume; over 125 Director of the 
Mint reports 1852-1977; Bankers Magazine and Statistical Register, ex: John J. Ford Jr.; 65 lots of Bank 


The sale also features classic selections from the library of numismatic publisher and literature dealer Myron Xenos, to include hundreds of 19th and 20th century auction catalogs, An Essay on Medals by Pinkerton, and numerous works on coinage of China, Japan and the Far East.


Over one thousand-three hundred color photographs of Large Cents 1816-1843 by William Noyes.


Library from New Mexico, featuring deluxe bound auction catalogs, numerous standard reference works, some deluxe editions and original Early Coins of America by Crosby.


A beautiful example of Medals & Medallions Relating to Architects by Eidlitz.


Badges & Medals of the American Numismatic Association, from the estate of Rollie Finner.

Including the very rare 1991 Centennial three piece medals set, bronze, silver & gold in special presentation wooden box.


Bidders may enter bids by mail, telephone, email or fax. The sale closes at 8pm mountain time,     June 11, 2011, however, any bids left on our answering machines or sent by email or fax on or before midnight on closing day will be accepted.


The most "dedicated" Numismatic Literature Auction firm in the United States


Sale Catalog is viewable on our web site


P.O. BOX 6321


TEL: (719) 302-5686

FAX: (719) 302-4933

finenumismaticbooks at






Wizard Coin Supply has over 300 numismatic titles in stock,

competitively discounted, and available for immediate shipment. 

See our selection at .




On May 25, 1911, Eric P. Newman came into this world.  This week the elder statesman of American numismatics celebrates his 100th birthday.  Happy Birthday, Eric!   I fondly recall several occasions when I had the opportunity and privilege to spend time with Eric.   I believe we first met at an American Numismatic Association convention. 


One time on my way to an ANA convention on the West Coast my plane had a layover in St. Louis, and who walked on board but Eric himself!   He recognized and greeted me, and we sat together and talked the remaining length of the flight.  Such a gentleman!   On an earlier occasion I attended an Early American Coppers convention in St Louis, and Eric graciously agreed to my bold request to visit his numismatic library.  I had the time of my numismatic life getting a private tour of his wonderful numismatic museum and library.


I spoke to Eric Thursday afternoon and he's doing quite well.   He's a regular E-Sylum reader and makes good use of the internet to help with his research.  He told me how much easier research is today - before he had to write letters and sometimes go in person to poke around libraries and museums to locate information.  He's hard at work on this latest numismatic research project.


Eric, I can't thank you enough for your friendship and your unmatched contributions to American numismatic history and literature.   Congratulations on yet another milestone - Happy Birthday!



Tom DeLorey published an article about Eric in the May 2011 issue of COINage magazine.  Here's the introduction:

In my numismatic life, I have been privileged to see and hold a great many numismatic wonders, including at various times five different examples of the famous (and infamous) 1804 silver dollar.  An even greater thrill was being able to hold all five of the 1913 Liberty Nickels in my hand at the same time, at the 2003 convention of the American Numismatic Association in Baltimore.


Eric Pfeiffer Newman, the greatest living American numismatist, used to own all five - at the same time.  What's more amazing is that he bought them in 1942, when he was just 30, nd he is still with us today as a national treasure - at the glorious age of 100.


I first met Eric Newman at the offices of Coin World in the mid-1970s.  I was about 25, with oh, so much to learn about numismatics, but he was ever the gentleman, despite being 40 years my senior.  I think we discussed the groundbreaking work  The Fantastic 1804 Dollar, which he co-authored with Ken Bressett in 1962.


It was a book that made handling those 1804 dollars over the years so special to me.  I knew I could never afford to own one, but Eric's writing made me want to own one.


Over the years, especially when I was an authenticator for the ANA Certification Service, I had occasion to speak with him about other things, such as the questionable United States Assay Office of Gold 1853 $20 coins associated with his long-time adversary, John J. Ford.   Newman was always willing to support the ANA in attempting to resolve the decades-old controversy surrounding these pieces, about which he was ultimately proven right, and a delight to speak with about other topics as well.





Eric and Evelyn Newman


Joel Orosz writes:

The following words were spoken in 1964 by Harold Macmillan about Sir Winston Churchill, but I think they apply perfectly to my good friend and mentor, Eric P. Newman, on the happy occasion of his centenary birthday:


"The life of the man whom we are honouring is unique.  The oldest among us can recall nothing to compare with him, and the younger ones among us, however long we live, will never see the like again."



George Kolbe writes:

"If you want to live a long life, focus on making contributions." 

 If these words by scientist Hans Selye are true, you will surely enjoy many more birthdays. Congratulations on a most memorable one.



Dennis Tucker of Whitman Publishing writes:

"The opportunity to collaborate with Mr. Newman has been an honor and a privilege. Best wishes for a wonderful 100th birthday, and many more!"



Keith Zaner of Whitman Publishing adds:

"I'd like to extend my best wishes to Eric Newman for a very happy birthday."



David F. Fanning writes:

Eric P. Newman established himself as a numismatic scholar in the 1940s, though he had been active in the 
hobby in other ways for quite some time. More than sixty years later, he remains an active contributor to 
numismatic scholarship in the United States and it is difficult to think of anyone else who has created a 
similar body of work in the field of early American numismatics. While other important scholars have published 
as widely as Mr. Newman has, rarely do we encounter the sheer depth of scholarship seen in Newman's work.


Numismatics is a science and, as with all scientific endeavors, obsolescence comes with the territory: science 
builds upon itself and is constantly revising. What is remarkable in the case of Eric Newman is that his work 
has stood the test of time so well. In most cases where revisions and emendations of his previously published 
works became necessary, Mr. Newman took on the task himself. He recognized early on that new data need 
constantly to be integrated into the published record, and that this continual process of revision keeps 
scholarship alive. If one can point to one of his older publications and say that it is out of date and has 
been surpassed by more recent scholarship, odds are that the more recent scholarship was also penned by Mr. 
Newman. This tendency to revise has kept his work fresh and vibrant and is a model for others to follow.

It is one thing to become an expert in a field and to acquire, through hard and often tedious work, truly 
specialize knowledge of a particular subject. It is another thing to make the decision to share that 
knowledge. The temptation to keep one's hard-won knowledge to oneself is real. Arrogance and greed are, 
regrettably, motivators that have done much to check the progress of numismatic science. Eric Newman made 
the decision early on to share the fruits of his labor with the wider numismatic community, and we are all 
richer for it. Because of this, he and his work will be remembered long after those of his peers who chose to 
hoard knowledge for themselves have been forgotten.

I wish Mr. Newman a very happy 100th birthday. He is a remarkable man and has led a remarkable life. I look 
forward to reading more of his works and I dearly value my friendship with him.



On Facebook BK's Chasing History wrote

"I don't know Mr. Newman but I know of him and I think I can say that most all of us would be thrilled to 
live a life as spectacularly as he has! Happy Birthday sir!"



Also chiming in on Facebook, Julian Leidman writes:

"Happy 100th to one of the greatest numismatists of all time. So happy that you are well and can celebrate 
properly. Wishing you many more years of enjoyment!"



Dan Hamelberg  writes:


A life full of challenges and adventure.  Eric has done it all. He has certainly engaged  and excelled in the 
world of numismatics.  During one of my visits to St. Louis, Eric shared with me one of his great adventures. 


After marrying the girl of his dreams, they traveled for their honeymoon to a coastal town in S. America. 
The world was on the brink of war, and it was reported that the Germans intended to dock a warship in the 
harbor of the town where Eric and his new bride were celebrating their marriage. The town's people did not 
like this idea, so they decided to react.  They floated a barge to the entry canal of the harbor, and sank it 
to block the German warship from entering.  Eric was right there to witness this.  When the news of this hit 
the wire services, his new in-laws back home were frantic. Eric composed a poem to explain the "adventure", 
and sent it as a telegram to ease the worry back home. No problem.  Eric and his best partner had started 
their great adventure.  Happy birthday, Eric.  May the adventure continue.


Happy Birthday, Eric!


Speaking to literature dealer John Burns this week we discussed Eric's upcoming birthday, and John noted that at least two other American numismatists reached their 100th year.  Who can name them?  Are there more?





As we mark the happy occasion of Eric Newman's 100th birthday, sadly our friends north of the border have lost a numismatic giant, Bill McDonald.

The following is posted on the site of the  J.D. Ferguson Historical Research Foundation.    Our thoughts are with his family and all of our Canadian numismatic friends.



It was with a strong feeling of the passing of an era that the death of William H. (Bill) McDonald was announced on Saturday, May 14, 2011. Bill was a huge force in Canadian numismatics, founder of the CPMS (Canadian Paper Money Society), the CMNS (Classical and Medieval Numismatic Society) and the J.D. Ferguson Historical Research Foundation.


     Bill, born in Winnipeg in 1924 into a large family, left home to join the Navy in 1943.  After the war, Bill left the west for Ottawa and Gwen joined him a year later where they were married in 1950. Bill now began his long career as a banker, eventually joining the Bank of Nova Scotia in Toronto, the city which remained his much-loved home for the rest of his life.


     Bill's career climbed with the explosive growth of the post-war city; he was involved in mortgage writing for the developers of the old Henry Farm for example, which became a fine planned community and the site of the McDonalds' family home.


     It was his banking career that first sparked his primary collecting interest: paper money, and specifically banknotes. His collection of these grew to enormous proportions. At one time a display of his collection at the Toronto-Dominion Centre encompassed seventy showcases. In a demonstration of the numismatic adage to buy the book before the coin, Bill put together a collection of books on banking history that filled three walls of his home library. Bill was always interested in the learning aspect of numismatics and to further spread his own commitment to paper money he founded the CPMS and with it, its publication which is still operating today.


     The J.D. Ferguson Historical Research Foundation was set up in 1971 by Bill and numismatic friends to support educational activity in the field of numismatics. All funds were tax deductible and kept in perpetuity. The Foundation is a legacy to Bill's progressive and forward thinking as the Foundation has given over $200,000 to numismatic research since its inception. Bill was the founding Chair and continued in that capacity until 1999. He believed so strongly in the Foundation that he gave large donations in his family name to the Foundation over many years


     After his retirement from banking, Bill felt the need of another challenge. He turned to a small collection of ancient coins he had bought and put away years before and for information about them developed a friendship with Bruce Brace, the foremost ancient numismatist of his day in Canada. Bruce introduced Bill to the rest of the ancient coin spectrum and suggested he limit himself to one facet of this very wide field. Bill wisely chose the period from 100 BC to AD 100 and for the rest of his collecting career stuck pretty closely to that.


     As in the case of paper money, Bill wanted to spread information on his new interest. To this end he founded the Classical and Medieval Numismatic Society, in partnership with Bruce Brace in 1991. This was accompanied by a pair of publications: the annual Picus and the quarterly newsletter Anvil. In 2000 these two publications were replaced by a card-covered quarterly, the CMNS Journal, which contained both scholarly and general interest articles. Four issues a year were mailed from an 'assembly line' around the McDonald dining room table and the 'world-wide distribution centre' staff then made their way to the post office with 300 copies to be mailed from Toronto to Tehran, Athens to Australia. After that, the mailing team (same as the editorial team and the office staff) made their way to the Fish House for a well deserved post-publication dinner.


     At one time Bill and Gwen even ran a mail order book business from their home. Called Marlcourt Books, it carried most publications in print for ancient numismatics and sent out many rare and out-of-print resources too.


     Bill would be happy to know he is so much remembered for his dissemination of numismatic information. Whether it was the founding of societies, publications, books or seminars Bill was a giant in Canadian numismatics and he will be long remembered for that.


To read the complete article, see:

William H. McDonald, 1924-2011



I recall Marlcourt Books.  Do any of our readers have experiences to share about Bill McDonald and his numismatic career?

His accomplishments were many.  I'll highlight one of particular interest to bibliophiles.


The idea for a new Canadian numismatic bibliography was first conceived in the spring of 1995 in a conversation between Bill McDonald and Darryl Atchison. Subsequently, at the annual meeting of the Canadian Numismatic Research Society held at the Canadian Numismatic Association convention in Calgary, Alberta, a proposal was formally adopted to compile such a text. After some discussion, Ron Greene, Darryl Atchison, Paul Berry, Phillip Carrigan and Bill McDonald were appointed as the members of the Canadian Numismatic Bibliography Project Committee. 


The massive two-volume work ably edited by Darryl Atchison was the culmination of a twelve-year effort, ultimately delivered to subscribers in 2007.  It was well worth the wait.  A cornerstone of any library devoted to Canadian numismatics (or North American numismatics, for that matter), the work is a virtual encyclopedia with far more information and text than a mere bibliography.  We're grateful to Bill McDonald for his part in making this work a reality.




Tony Hine forwarded the following obituary.  I included an image of Bill provided by Dan Gosling.  Thanks, everyone!

MCDONALD, William Henry - 1924 - 2011 With sadness we announce the passing of Bill, peacefully and with love surrounding him on Saturday, May 14, 2011. Bill leaves behind his loving wife of 60 years Dorothy Gwen, his daughter Barbara (Mike Irwin), his grandchildren Michael Irwin (Sheryl), Stephanie (Cale Reeder), Amanda Campbell. Bill also leaves behind his sisters, Beatrice Brooks, Alice Carrigan, Maude (Roger Poirier), Dorothy (Al Markusson), Florence (Bob Larson), sister-in-law Wanda McDonald, numerous nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great- nephews. Predeceased by brothers Norman, Gordon, Murray and Edward.


Bill served with the RCNVR, 1943-1945. He then began a career as a venture capitalist that spanned more than 50 years. During this time he was instrumental in creating a national mortgage company, and was influential in a Canadian Bank receiving its parliamentary charter. Of equal importance to Bill was his passion for the development and promotion of Canadian numismatics. He was not only a very well-respected and knowledgeable collector; he was also one of the initial founders of two of Canada's numismatic societies. His involvement in Canadian numismatics led him to be a key player in the founding of the J. Douglas Ferguson Historical Research Foundation, an educational charitable organization. Bill also ran Marlcourt Books, a company specializing in numismatics, banking and financial history.


Bill was an honourable gentleman whose gentle spirit and wonderful smile were shared with all who knew him. The family would like to express heartfelt thanks to all of the devoted caring staff of Sunnybrook Veterans Centre K2W. A private service took place on May 16, with The Rev. Canon Brad Lennon officiating. A Celebration of Bill's life will be held on June 25, 2011 from 1-5 p.m. at York Visitation Centre, 160 Beecroft Road, Toronto, ON, M2N 5Z5, 416-221-3404 or 1-888-277-2643. If friends wish, donations to the following charity would be deeply appreciated by the family: 'Veterans Comfort Fund' (please specify), Sunnybrook Foundation, 2075 Bayview Avenue, Room H332 Toronto, ON, M4N 3M5 or at


To read the complete article, see:

William Henry McDonald






Rare and Unusual Publications on American Numismatics Including


A 1910 Thomas Elder sale Confederate Half Dollar illustration

unrecorded in Adams,(only the second known;

A 1908 letter from Charles Steigerwalt to Joseph Mitchelson,

(commenting on the death of De Witt Smith;

A deluxe set of John Adams bibliographies;

(A rare photographic illustration of an 1804 silver dollar

sold in an 1884 Adolph Weyl sale


Catalogue Available at Our Web Site:

Printed Catalogues $10.00




(614) 414-0855 • df at • 
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